The last trimester of pregnancy (from 7th month to birth) is the last and crucial stage – you are now having an increasingly bigger tummy and may be wondering if there are certain activities you can’t do. Here are the precautions that you can take in this last trimester.
Precaution #1 – Limit Travel
If you’re taking a plane or a cruise, you will have to check with the carriers – most will not allow pregnant mothers in their third trimester or may request a doctor’s letter. The risk of traveling in the third trimester is early preterm labour and risk of blood clot from prolonged sitting. There is also increased risk of infection and the difficulty of seeking medical help away from home.
Precaution #2 – Limit Heavy Duty Work
You should avoid heavy lifting, extensive climbing or carrying heavy things in the third trimester. Heavy loads can strain your back and also affect your baby. Limit prolonged standing, harmful substances and extreme temperatures too.
Precaution #3 – Continue with Light Exercise
You should have included gentle exercise from the start of your pregnancy. In the third trimester, it is important to keep yourself physically fit in preparation for labour. Opt for daily walks but be very careful about climbing stairs – you may be off-balance more easily with such a big tummy.
Precaution #4 – Rest while You Can
It is less than 3 months away and you’d likely find yourself thrown into a whole different schedule when your baby is born. Consider starting your maternity leave early so that you can rest and reduce stress. Stress presents a risk of preterm labour, low birth weight and is increasingly linked to behavioural and developmental problems in the baby. If work is giving you stress, consider delegating (it will be delegated when you are on leave anyway!) and making it a point to leave office on time. When at home, get your spouse to do the household chores.
Precaution #5 – Lie Down when You Get Contractions
In the third trimester, you may experience Braxton Hicks contractions which are irregular and infrequent. When closer to the due date, these contractions become more frequent and intense. They are like practice sessions for the uterine muscles and when you experience them, lie down and practice your breathing. A note on sleeping – try to do so on your left side as it is the position that improves blood flow and is more comfortable than sleeping on your back.
Precaution #6 – Be Wary of Cat Litter
While you should avoid cat litter and the feces of other pets throughout your pregnancy, you should be extra careful in the third trimester as the risk of the baby getting infected is higher. The cat litter has a parasite known as toxoplasma gondii that may cause toxoplasmosis, a rare but serious blood infection. Pregnant mother who tested positive with toxoplasmosis can pass it on to their fetus. According to Health Xchange, it has a potential to cause premature delivery or serious malformations in the baby.
** If you own a pet cat or come into frequent contact with stray cats, you can get a blood test done in the hospital to see if you are immune to toxoplasmosis.
Precaution #7 – Say Yes to Well Done
Similar to cat litter, undercooked meat or contaminated fruit or vegetables also contain parasites. As the body needs more iron in the third trimester to manufacture more blood, pregnant mothers may be advised to take iron-rich foods. If you are opting for beef, be sure it is well done. Otherwise, opt for other sources of iron such as lean meat, leafy greens and have a glass of orange juice to help with iron absorption. Dine in restaurants you are familiar with that maintain good food hygiene.
Precaution #8 – Maintaining a Quality Diet
You should have been eating well from the start of your pregnancy. However, in the third trimester, you may be tempted to indulge after all, your tummy is supposed to be big (or already is huge!). While it is ok to indulge a little, don’t go overboard. Your weight gain in the third trimester should be around half a kilogram per week and your calorie intake should be about an extra of 300 calories per day. 300 calories looks like a baked potato with a serving of fruits and yoghurt. Continue to eat a balanced diet, drink water and have sufficient iron and omega-3 without eating raw, unpasteurised or high mercury foods.
Precaution #9 – Watch out for Preeclampsia
There is increased risk of preeclampsia in the third trimester, which is pregnancy-induced hypertension. If you have sudden, rapid weight gain, blurred vision and facial/ hand swelling, see a doctor immediately. As always, check with your doctor before taking any medication and avoid aspirin in the third trimester.
Precaution #10 – Preparing for Labour
Closer to the due date, you should already have prepared your bag for bringing to the hospital and make arrangements for your spouse and family to be around during the expected time of delivery.
You are so close to the baby delivery date – take the time to relax, connect with your spouse and enjoy the last stage of your pregnancy.